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RAIN 4/14: Pandora subpoena foreshadows industry privacy issues to come, says attorney

Posted on: 04/14/2011


Last week, Pandora announced in its S-1 SEC filing that it recevied a subpoena from a Federal grand jury in connection with an “industry-wide probe” into mobile app privacy (more here). Not long after, security firm Veracode found that Pandora’s Android app apparently sends a user’s birth date, gender, Android ID, and GPS information to various advertising companies (more here).

Veracode’s findings aren’t surprising, considering the Wall Street Journal‘s investigation of Pandora’s iPhone app in December 2010 uncovered similar results (RAIN coverage here).

These developments are “but the tip of the iceberg“ for media companies, writes Davis Wright Tremaine partner and industry legal expert David Oxenford (pictured below). Privacy is a new issue in the digital world “that now seems poised to dominate the legal conversation in coming months (or years).”

Oxenford writes that the FTC and Department of Commerce have issued reports “suggesting more disclosure about information collection and that people be able to opt out“ while legislation offering similar course of action have also arisen.

Issues surrounding privacy are very much still developing, but Oxenford recommends that “companies who collect information need to be very sure that any information that is collected is used in a manner totally consistent with their policies and with any laws limiting the use of private information…and be prepared.”

Oxenford moderated a panel about Internet radio legal issues at RAIN Summit West 2011 and we’ll have coverage of that discussion in the days ahead.

Privacy issues, like in the developments with Pandora, often arise when companies give user information to advertisers. Usually, writes Oxenford, this kind of information is only used “to provide advertisers with the ability to target their advertising at individuals more likely to act on that advertising, and otherwise serve the interests of the user“ (i.e., not hearing ads for lipstick if you’re an 18-year-old male).

However, some users worry that their information “could somehow be compiled and made available for some nefarious purposes (identity theft, personal or professional embarrassment, etc).”

You can read more about these privacy issues and find more resources from Oxenford’s Broadcast Law Blog here.


Ad response rates increase 200% to 350% when advertisers include Internet radio in online ad campaigns, new research shows. What’s more, ad recall tops 50% with Internet radio listeners, and 2 in 5 say they’ve responded to such an ad.

Digital audio ad network TargetSpot says new research validates the remarkable growth of online audio, identifies listeners as a highly-desirable demographic for advertisers, and shows a significant benefit to marketers that include online audio in campaigns.

TargetSpot CEO Eyal Goldwerger (pictured) presented highlights of the results of the two new studies, “Digital Audio Usage Trends:
A Highly Engaged Listenership,” and “Internet Radio Advertising Impact Study” at the RAIN Summit West conference in Las Vegas on Monday. The research was conducted for TargetSpot by Parks Associates.

According to TargetSpot, the “research found a 3.5 times higher ad response rate when adding Internet radio to a broadcast radio campaign, and a two times higher ad response rate when adding Internet Radio to an online campaign.”

Get detailed study results from the white papers for “Digital Audio Usage Trends: A Highly Engaged Listenership” here and “Internet Radio Advertising Impact Study” here.


Today, Sony brings its Music Unlimited streaming music service to its mobile PSP gaming units (pictured right). Music Unlimited launched in February and includes Pandora-like radio streaming (without ads) for $4 per month and other, more expensive on-demand services (RAIN coverage here). Engadget has more on the story here.


Clear Channel’s iHeartRadio has launched an iPad app. The free app includes access to 750 Clear Channel stations and of course supports multitasking and AirPlay features. The iPad version also includes photos, videos and other visual content. Mobile Entertainment has more coverage here.

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